Why the fascination with superheroes?

By Muhammad Faiz

Clark Kent, Dinah Lance, Barry Allen, Jean Grey, Erik Leshnerr, Harleen Quinzel and Peter Parker are some of the characters that exist in a comic book universe. They are superheroes, mutants, meta-human, vigilantes and villains.

In this past decade, comic books fans have been blessed with many superheroes movies such as X-Men franchise, the Spiderman trilogies which come from the Marvel Universe, and some superheroes movies originate from DC Comics.

This development has also managed to attract some fans and viewers who are not the fans of the comic books.

For the Marvel Universe, they have been set up way earlier than DC Comics with their movies like Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor leading up for their Avengers movies. Before that, they already have three movies from the X-Men however; they are from two different universes, as they are not set in a same or a parallel universe.

As for the DC Comics, there have been some movies but they did not decide to do an extended universe where all movies are connected until these recent years. Unlike the movie world, the television world has started off way early with their animated adaptations like X-Men Unlimited and Justice League.

Then, came television shows based on comic books such as Smallville, The Flash, Marvel’s Agent of Shields and the Defenders franchise. Not to mention, there are numerous new comic book-based television shows and movies in upcoming future waiting for their premiere date in shooting and in development.

Fascination with superheroes

Based on these developments, it is proven that the fan base of the comic books has expanded with many movie networks producing superhero movies.

However, not everyone shares the same sentiment as they would think of it as movies for kids but whenever this kind of movies came out, the cinema would be full of teenagers, young adults and even adults. For some, they are wondering what the appeals of these superheroes movies are. I mean, why the fascination with the characters especially superheroes from the comic book?

One of the reasons of the fascination with the superheroes are that they are relatable to their readers and viewers. It might seem to contradict with the relatable point as superheroes are so different with their superpower, abilities, costumes and a big pile of money, but they are relatable despite that.

However, as amazing as their superpowers are, the most relatable thing about them is about their behaviour, their emotions, their feelings and their life stories.

Even when the background of the superhero is from another planet such as Superman, the viewers and readers relate to the character by his struggles and shortcomings.

It is such amazing feelings to be able to relate ourselves to superheroes and draws strength and confidence from the characters.

For example, with Peter Parker or Spiderman, he is living such a complicated life without even putting his superhero life in the mix. He is an orphan, grew up with his uncle and aunty, lost his uncle in a robbery gone wrong, and he also loves to isolate himself because he is a nerd.

Peter Parker’s life will always be relatable to some people. As for Clark Kent or even Bruce Wayne, their lives have always been full of complications from being kids to an adult with growing up being a loner and have insecurity through puberty and most importantly in their road as a superhero and a beacon of hope.

Not only that, in X-Men universe, mutants isolated as they depicted as freaks so some of them got rejected and disowned and some of them got sent to school for the mutants.

A way of escapism

Some people relate to the situation that somehow in the world, they are alone and earnestly looking for someone who has same similar experience as them. In a simple sense, they are looking for their people who can understand them.

Besides that, a world of superheroes also serves as a way of escapism. Escapism, as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.

Being able to imagine myself in a superhero world setting and play out my imagination is such a whirlwind and amazing way to release  stress. It also does not matter the stress is released either by watching some superhero movies or television shows or by even reading it.

Not only that, superheroes storyline in comic books is always related to current issues. When we look at various issues of comic books, we can find Nazis, corrupt polices or politicians and others. By having that kind of storylines, it will help readers and viewers to relate much easier as it is something that is relatable.

It also helps in making sure that we can get our perspective right, as it is usually depicted in the comic books, for example, a recent protest in Charlottesville is also portrayed in the comic book.

Thus, it is amazing to observe how the comic books play in our lives especially with the abundance of the superheroes movies in cinema nowadays and in the future.

Between reality and fiction

However, as amazing and wonderful to see how and why the fascination with superheroes grow over times, the fans in the superheroes fandoms sometimes are the meanest of all in the online community. They tend to forget the lines between reality and fiction because some of them even went to laugh at someone, a case in point, a movie director’s family tragedy.

As fascinating as it is and how a fan we are, we always need to remember the difference of a reality and a fiction and be aware of it. Matt Bomer once said, “Outside of, as a kid, just wanting to be able to fly and run faster than a speeding locomotive and being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, we’d like to hope that, when push comes to shove, we can do the right thing. I think as long as there is that hope in our society and in the zeitgeist of superheroes, Superman will be relevant.” He is right. ***

DC Comics – Justice League
Marvel’s Superheroes

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